ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 01104 4143
ORGANIZED MAY 9, 1894.
INCORPORATED JULY 9, 1394,
Vol. I. Xlx^tii Bulletin No. I.
uakerism on l\i antucket
(SMnce f 800,
HENRY BARNARD WORTH.
Nantucket Histouical association,
. 4-; 'a'A*
F NANTUCKET HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, Nantucket,
1 .6 Bulletin... v. 1-3 (1896-1910) Nantucket,
c "j 7^ . j/o 2- No more Polished.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
http://archive.org/details/bulletinv1 n1 nant
The following essay was prepared for the pi ,
indicating the causes that led to the melancholy di i;
ance of Friends from Nantucket. Facts were tal* i'i
original sources and statements of theological
versies, were quoted from books of unquestioi
Some historical digressions were necessary to (
the movements of the Nantucket Meetings.
Terms used to designate different bodies of Fr
which were derived from the names of prominent le,
are employed not in disrespect, but because no other
are as clear. Henry B. Wor'
New Bedford, August 1, 1896.
dred. It is not proposed to limit the membership to natives. All
who are of Nantucket descent, and all visitors who are interested,
are also urged to join the society. Anyone may become a member
by paying one dollar a year; a life member by the payment of fifteen
dollars; and a life councilor for fifty dollars.
The Society appeals to all in sympathy with its object, to do-
nate to it any document or relic of historical value. Copies of val-
uable documents will be of much service. Copies of genealogical
records and coats of arms will be regarded as of special value. It
also wishes to collect and preserve likenesses of all persons of Nan-
tucket origin who have been of note, either at home or abroad. It
will gather together relics of the Indians; all evidences of the early
life of our people, and of the condition of the island from the earliest
time. It will seek to perpetuate the history of its industries. The
scope of the society will be much wider than that of any written
history of the island. It is not too late to secure a collection of
objects of much historical interest, that will grow more and more
valuable in future years. Nantucket is a small island, but it has
contributed in proportion to its size and population more than its
share to the upbuilding of our country. We ought to preserve with
honest pride the memory of all who have been of special service
either to our own island or to the world. Communications should
be addressed to
MISS SUSAN A. STARBCCK,
CONDITION IN 1800.
The Society of Friends on the Island of Nantucket
reached its highest tide of membership and influence
a few years prior to the opening of the present century.
In the year 1792 they were using a meeting house
located in the corner of their burying ground at the junc-
tion of Main and Saratoga streets. This building was
erected in 1730, and here the Friends had met for over
sixty years. This location was once central and conven-
ient, but the members had now moved nearer Nantucket
harbor and their success in business siiggested a change.
" 11th mo., 28, 1791. The Friends' Meeting decided that
the remote situation of our meeting house being found in-
convenient it gave rise in this meeting to a proposition of
removing to a place more central and the propriety of
dividing the body of Friends if a second house should be
Two months later the committee reported favorably
concerning both projects, "which being considered of is
referred for further consideration to the next Monthly
Meeting. In the meantime Friends are desired to invest
their minds with due attention to the subject."
The next month was taken another cautious step. In
order that the most careful consideration should be devoted
to the subject and no feature overlooked, "2 mo., 27,
1792. This meeting appoints a committee of fourteen
to investigate the expense of moving their meeting house
and to enquire for a suitable place to build."
The next month the committee reported "it would
cost to move the old building and build a second one 900
pounds. One piece of land was by David Collin's and
the other between Jethro Starbuck and John Gardner."
This report was accepted, and a building committee of
4 twelve was chosen to receive conveyances of the lots and
procure materials for a new house."
The conveyances, dated April 12, 171)2, were taken
in the names of Benjamin Barney, cooper, Jethro Mitchell,
cooper, and Shubael Coffin, merchant, as overseers.
One lot was bounded on the north by a highway, on the
east by another highway, on the south by land of David
Coffin, and on the west by land of Richard Mitchell.
The streets of Nantucket were not then named.
This lot was at the southwest corner of Main and Pleas-
ant streets, where the dwelling house of the late Benjamin
Coffin now stands.
The other lot was " bounded on the south by a wide
highway, on the east by land of Zacheus Macy, and west
by land of Jethro Starbuck."
The " wide highway" is now Broad street, and on this
lot now stands the residence of the late Eben W. Allen,
directly east from the Ocean House.
These proceedings were well known to all the islanders.
"The Congregational society having heard that the
Friends were contemplating a change and that they might
be put to some inconvenience for a place to meet in,
passed a vote to offer the use of their meeting house to the
Friends for the purpose of solemn worship whilst said re-
moval might be accomplishing."
But that committee of twelve had not overlooked such
an important contingency.
The meeting replied: "This meeting imprest with a
due sense of their friendly intention & desirous to render
them the acknowledgement do to so liberal & benevolent
an offer, inform them that the necessity which they appre-
hend is not likely to take place, this meeting having con-
cluded to build a new house previous to the removal
of the old."
The new meeting house was fifty-six feet long and
thirty-eight feet wide, and stood on the Broad street lot.
On the Main street lot the old meeting house was re-
Before the autumn of 1792 had passed the new house
had been built and the old one removed. They paid for
the change in two years.
" 9 mo., £9, 1794. The building committee reported
that they had completed building the new house and had
moved the old one and had paid all the cost."
At this time the population of Nantucket was about 5000
and nearly one-half attended Friends Meeting.
DIVISION OF THE SOCIETY.
When the Friends had completed the change and had
two meeting houses ready for use it became expedient to
divide the membership into two bodies, each of which
should attend a separate house.
Meetings for worship were larger than business meet-
ings, for on First days many attended meeting who were
not members. While they needed two meeting houses for
worship, one was enough for business meetings.
They selected the most natural line for division, although
it did not divide the members into two equal parts.
" 12 mo., 31, 1792. The society is divided as follows :
A line from the old wharf as far west as Sylvanus Star-
buck's dwelling house (including said house with all who
dwell on the south side of said street) beyond, taking its
course in that direction to the shearing pen, with all who
dwell to the south of said limits, to attend at the old meet-
ing house, others to attend at the new meeting house."
This line began at the Straight Wharf and extended
westerly through the entire length of Main street and its
continuations to the ponds.
This division, however, was merely for convenience in
worship. One corporation, the Nantucket Monthly Meet-
ing, owned both buildings.
The business meetings were held in the Main street
Several meeting houses may belong to one Monthly
Monthly Meetings of a certain section are governed by
an organization called a Quarterly Meeting. This is
composed of delegates from each Monthly Meeting.
The Yearly Meeting is the supreme body and meets
once a year, and is composed of delegates from the Quar-
Nantucket Monthly Meeting belonged to the Sandwich
Quarterly Meeting and to the New England Yearly Meet-
Not long after the division, those members who were as-
signed to the Broad Street Meeting for worship desired to
have a separate business meeting and to manage their
affairs without connection with the Main Street Meeting.
They desired to be a Distinct Monthly Meeting.
" 1 mo., 27, 1794. The subject of a Distinct Monthly
Meeting being allowed to the Friends who constitute the
North Meeting referred to a committee."
"2 mo., 21, 1794. The committee after solid and weighty
attention therein are generally of opinion it will be
best for said Friends to be set off' and be a Distinct Monthly
The consent of the Sandwich Quarterly Meeting was
obtained, and the Nantucket Monthly Meeting for the
Northern District was duly organized.
10 mo., 27, 1794. The North Meeting met for the
first time, with William Rotch as clerk andjethro Mitchell
as treasurer. As near as can be ascertained the North
Meeting included about one-third of the Nantucket
Friends, but here were more persons of wealth than at the
old meeting. The Mitchells. Rotchs, Rodmans, Gard-
ners, Joys and Swifts were members of this meeting.
When the nineteenth century opened there were two
Quaker meetings largely attended and flourishing, and
the only other sect on the island was still struggling and
The Friends had evidently founded an enduring strong-
hold, and in the future were clear prospects of greater
44 The men and women sat, the elder folk facing the
younger, from their rising seats, with faces grave beneath
the stiff straight brim or dusky bonnet. On the highest
seats, where the low partition boards sundered the men
and women, there alone sat they whom most the spirit
visited and spake through them and gave authority."
Yet unknown to themselves they had reached the pin-
nacle of their prosperity, and soon would begin the
decline that would be steady and relentless, until they
should disappear from the Island. They heeded not the
clouds that warned them of coming storms, but condemn-
ing all change as dangerous, they sailed on in the cause
given them two centuries before by George Fox, until
stranded, shattered, and wrecked on one rock after
another, they have almost vanished from the sea, and rival
sects are now in undisputed dominion on the island.
If a vision of coming time could have been given them
with its changes and sad decay, we cannot doubt that
they would gladly endeavored to avert such a calamity.
They would never have been willing to permit the labors
of a century thus to come to naught. It is therefore not
amiss to assume that they did not appreciate where their
course would lead.
To-day a large part of the Friends have seen the errors
of their ancestors, and have changed their course and are
having some prosperity.
But scattered through the world are small struggling
bodies that claim to keep the faith and practice of their an-
cestors without change, and although each year growing-
less and less, they cannot see that their forefathers were in
any error. Such mistaken and misguided zeal seems un-
accountable. They seem to hope that in some mysterious
way they will be restored to their former power and pres-
CAUSES OF DECLINE.
There were five principal causes that led to the decline
of the Quaker society at Nantucket.
1. In the early years of this century considerable
numbers of Nantucketers emigrated to Maine, New York
and the West. Many of these were Friends, and their
removal perceptably reduced the Nantucket meetings.
2. The loss to Nantucket merchants by French
Spoliations and the war of 1812 caused great financial
change to the Nantucket Quakers. Their property en-
While it is true that Friends are under less expense than
other people, yet there is great prestige in having wealthy
persons among the members of a society. The losses by
the Mitchells and Gardners and others must have had a
depressing effect on the Nantucket Friends.
3. The literature of the year 1800 was very hostile to
religious thought, and members who followed the sea
could not help feeling its influence. They became in-
different when at home, and were disowned for not attend-
4. The establishment of a Methodist society on the
island, which met in the attic of a house on Fair street.
Here was the same zeal that now characterizes the Salva-
tion Army, and the place was called "Glory Hole."
Children of Friends were attracted by this vigorous
religious body and left their parents' meeting.
"5 mo., 20, 1821. E. S. disowned lor attending the
5. But the most potent cause of decline was the en-
forcement of their discipline. Here the Friends were un-
relenting in disowning their members for acts not immoral.
Their treatment was so severe that it brought discredit
instead of respect, and on this account persons outside were
There is in mankind a sense of fairness which
accurately measures all penalties. This sense must not
be offended if any religious body would obtain additions
from those outside.
One Friend wrote: " It has been my lot to see many
cases of disownment of members from which my own
feelings revolted, and in which the benevolent feelings of
valuable Friends appeared to have been violated to uphold
the discipline. I have seen men of natural kindness and
tendencies become hard hearted and severe. I have seen
justice turned back and mercy laid aside."
At Nantucket, while the highest penalty was excom-
munication, it was considered a great loss and disgrace,
although the accused was conscious of no wrong. Then
there were no degrees in the penalties. Disownment was
the only penalty for all offences great and small.
A few quotations will now be given of accusations for
which persons were disowned. They are samples of
" 2 mo., 27, 1800. Henry Barnard had gone to sea in
an armed vessel."
If they had known that he joined the Freemasons live
years before, he would have been disowned sooner for that.
" 1 mo., 28, 1801. L. II. was disowned for deviating
from our principles in dress and address."
Tic persisted in wearing buckles, and refused to say
"thee" and "thou."
«' % mo., 25, 1801. D. C. had married a member of
another society, and J. J. was keeping company with
a man not in membership with us and attended a place
where there was music and dancing."
" 10 mo., 28, 1801. Levi Joy was living in Hudson,
New York, though still a member of the Nantucket Meet-
ing. The Nantucket Meeting requested the Hudson
Meeting to treat with him on account of a charge that
he had joined the Freemasons. That meeting replied
that Joy denied being a member of that society. This
evasive reply was promptly rejected and the Hudson
Meeting informed 'that the time and place of his initiation
among them and the circumstances of the case have been
ascertained,' and requested them to investigate further.
Several months afterward the Hudson Meeting replied
that 'Joy admitted that he was once among the Free-
masons in their embodied capacity, and never but once,
and had no desire to meet with them again in like
manner,' and suggested that he be pardoned, which was
"7 mo., 6, 1803. H. C. had deviated in dress and
address from the plainness of our profession, and F.
H. had deviated from our principles in dress, particularly
in tying the hair."
"4 mo., 30, 1806. D. G. had gone out in marriage
with a woman in New York."
" 11 mo., 29, 1800. H. 13. G. had.attended a marriage
performed by a minister, where there was music and
dancing, in which he was a partaker."
" 10 mo., 31, 1810. N. M. attended a marriage per-
formed by a minister."
"3 mo., 20, 1812. M. R. had been dealing in and
handling spirituous liquors."
" 11 mo., 25, 1815. S. C. had sailed in a privateer."
" 10 mo., 29, 1818. II. G. had partaken too freely of
"5 mo., 31, 1821. W. G. II. joined a company
at a hall and was concerned in a lottery."
"7 mo., 25, 1821. A. F. had permitted his daughter
to he married in his dwelling house by a minister."
"5 mo., 30, 1822. C- G. C. had married a woman not
And yet for over half a century afterward he was one of
Nantucket's most kindly and benevolent citizens and
prominently connected with the Coflin school and Athe-
"5 mo., 31, 1824. L. C. had neglected the meetings
and frequented those of the Methodist society."
Such were the austerities of their discipline.
Dishonorable failures were promptly condemned.
"3 mo., 26, 1812. E. M. had launched into business
beyond his ability and cannot pay his just debts."
" (> mo., 9, 1813. S. M. had failed in the performance
of his promises and cannot pay but a small dividend."
It must not be concluded that such severity existed
solely in Nantucket. It was everywhere the same.
Persons marrying contrary to the society's rules were
disowned unless they repented in writing. One woman
said she was disowned for the best act of her life.
In one case parents were forbidden to bequeath prop-
erty to such a child who had been disowned.
One physician was disowned for certifying that certain
soldiers were disabled by wounds and suitable for
At one period Friends thought it justifiable to visit their
members and with instruments remove ornaments from
It was common practice for Friends to attend marriages
of their Gentile acquaintances, if only they were out of the
room when the marriage ceremony was being performed.
Once over thirty persons left the room and returned
after the marriage had been performed by a minister, and
thus escaped disownment.
A prominent English Quakeress said : "I cannot deny
that much as I love the principles of Quakerism, bitter
experience has proved to me that Friends do rest too
much in externals, and that valuable as are many of them
yet there are also serious evils in our society among its mem-
bers. These cause me real anxiety and pain and reconcile
me to so many of my children being disowned."
The far-reaching consequences of these numerous dis-
ownments were never measured or considered. Ties of
blood and marriage are always strong. If a member of a
family was set aside for some frivolous offence, others of
the family were likely to follow, and those disowned
usually went to another meeting.
These losses were not compensated by additions, for
leaving out of account children of Quaker parentage who
were members by birth, other additions were not over
one in five years, while the disownments were often fifty
Although it is difficult to estimate the exact loss to the
Quaker society on account of any particular cause, yet
the influential cause was the enforcement of unnatural
regulations regarding marriage. In this particular, expe-
rience shows that the human heart generally without
restraint follows its own inclinations. Sometimes educa-
tion, public opinion, and persuasion may exert an influence
on the choice, but compulsory requirements never will
succeed. It has been stated without objection that fully
one-third of the Friends who married before 1850 chose
partners not members of the society, and thus lost their
Of these almost none are reinstated, for having com-
mitted no moral offence, and being disowned for an act that
may have added greatly to their happiness they have no
wish to return to a body towards which they entertain only
feelings of disgust.
From the beginning of this century to the present time
such marriages have increased in frequency, and the fact
that disownment for this course is now mentioned as a joke
is a proof of the impotency of the penalty.
In relation to this discipline it should be stated that in
New England at this time are three sects of (Quakers.
1. The Nantucket Meeting.
3. The Wilburite Meeting.
3. The Gurney Meeting, or New England Yearly
The censorious discipline is now carried out in its full-
ness by the first two.
In the Gurney body has been a great change. In the
last book of discipline published by the New England
Yearly Meeting marrying non-members is no cause for
disownment. Attending meetings of other societies is not
forbidden, and dress is no longer a subject for discipline.
Members may belong to secret societies if "the cause of
truth do not suffer," and they can hold public ollice.
Before 1852 a Quaker burial ground resembled a pas-
ture lot or hay field. Now there are seen grave stones
fifteen inches high.
Formerly there were twenty-seven causes for disown-
ment, not including crimes. Now there are eleven de-
linquencies for which members may be set aside.
In the Friends school at Providence, Rhode Island,
which is managed by the New England Yearly Meeting,
are provided for use of the students nine pianos, and
music, vocal and instrumental, are on their curriculum.
All these departures have been made in recent years in
the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
In a recent number of an English periodical in the
interest of the strict class of Friends mention was made oi
honors conferred in English universities on children of
Quaker parentage. One of these had taken first honors
in insrtumental music.
Thus they reduced their membership in excess of the
additions. The interest of members in their meetings
was sadly declining.
Instead of two strong flourishing meetings, as at the
opening of the century, there were at Nantucket two
remnants, and it was thought best to combine them. The
weakest body was at Broad street. It was therefore
decided to discontinue it.
"5 mo., 13, 1829. The Nantucket Meeting for the
Northern District was dissolved and its property and mem-
bers transferred to the old meeting."
The Broad street meeting house was used as a place of
worship until September, 1833, when it was sold by the
Friends. It was afterwards rebuilt and became a part of
the beautiful Trinity Episcopal church, which was burned
in the fire of 1846.
Such was the irony of Fate. A Quaker meeting was
discontinued and its house of worship transformed into
an Episcopal church, where the High Church ceremonials
prevailed and the rector was a zealous disciple of Newman
and the Tractarians.
THE HICKSITE STRUGGLE.
During the first thirty years of this century disownments
were based exclusively on irregularities or omissions
None had been disowned on account of doctrinal views,
but now a new and more insidious foe had appeared and
was walking about the land. It had paused at Philadel-
phia and New York, and had carried away captive large
numbers of Friends. Some of these in New York had
relatives at Nantucket. Stalwart Friends in New York
and Philadelphia, who had withstood the enemy, warned
their brethren at Nantucket, who had time to prepare for
the expected invasion. Several years they waited, and at
last in the summer of 1830 it appeared on the island. It
was merely a Hicksite preacher, but that meant a moun-
Elias I licks, a Quaker Minister after a long ministry,
was charged with teaching false doctrines. He lived on
Long Island and carried on farming. Mis power as an
orator has been likened to that of Webster and Everett.
In his published sermons certain stalwart Friends in Phil-
adelphia discovered evidences that Hicks doubted the
inspiration of the Bible, the deity of the Messiah, and the
personality of the devil. So they led against him a fierce
attack, which continued several years and resulted in a
division of the society in Baltimore and Pennsylvania, and
New York, in which a larger part approved Hicks' views
and the smaller body remained orthodox. This was the
first rift in the Quaker society. Each, part claimed to hold
On the controverted points Hicks denied that he held
any views different from George Fox, who was the stand-
ard. Judged by his sermons, Hicks was as orthodox
as one-half of the Protestant clergy of to-day.
It seems that in the early summer of 1880 a Hicksite
minister visited Nantucket and appointed a meeting to be
held in some building not a church. Quite likely he came
from New York and was welcomed by tlie relatives
of his New York Friends. Some of the members of
the Nantucket Meeting "publicly gave countenance to this
affair by assisting the minister to procure a meeting house
other than that of Friends for a meeting called by that
person not in unity with Friends, and they attended that
meeting, for which breaches of order no satisfaction was
obtained from them."
Friends could punish any disorderly conduct. So
all that became necessary was to call any objectionable
act a "disorder" and it could be punished. By the
experience of several years, Friends in Nantucket were
advised that this was the only safe way to deal with the
Hicksite movement. If any member was discovered lean-
ing that way, call him "disorderly" and disown him. It is
altogether likely that the minister was known to them as a
Hicksite by reputation. The only other fact was to ascer-
tain who gave him any welcome and call it a "disorder"
and disown them. So eager were they to throttle the in-
vading monster that they never even charged that their
members approved the minister's preaching.
To punish these acts as "disorderly" was easy, summary
and effective, even if unjust. A busy summer followed.
Gilbert Coffin, Silvanus Macy, Roland Hussey, Obed
Barney, Daniel Mitchell, William B. Coffin, Charles Pit-
man, Gideon Swain, Matthew Myrick, William Watson,
Thomas Macy, Peter Macy, Obed Macy, and their wives
and others had been in some way connected with the
Hicksite meeting and were disowned. These persons
were prominent and influential and were a loss to the
meeting, both in membership and prestige.
Nowhere else in New England did the Ilicksite move-
ment appear, and the reason for its appearance at Nan-
tucket may be that the Ilicksite leaders in New York City
had relatives in Nantucket whom they had probably made
familiar with Hicks' views.
It is estimated that of the whole Friends society in the
world two-fifths became Hicksites. In Nantucket the
number scarcely reached one-fifth.
The Nantucket Hicksites organized a meeting under the
Westbury Quarterly Meeting on Long Island, and March
23, 1833, through their overseers, Gilbert Coffin, Obecl
and Peter Macy, purchased a lot on Main street, where
now stands the residence ot" William T. Swain. On this
lot they erected a large meeting house, where they met
several years. When their members became reduced the
meeting house property was sold, and the building was
afterwards used for the straw business and was called
Atlantic Hall. A few years ago it was taken down and is
now the middle section of Hotel Nantucket. The mem-
bers who were left mostly attended the Unitarian Church,
lending some credit to the popular impression that Hicks-
ites are Unitarian Quakers.
Thus the Nantucket Meeting successfully liberated them-
selves from those they considered heretical parasites. It
had been done quickly and easily. They did in two
months what was pending several years in Philadelphia.
Elias Hicks visited Nantucket in June, 1793, nearly
thirty years before his name became associated with false
REMOVAL TO FAIR STREET.
The Friends had not the control of the island as in former
The Methodists had two churches, one on lower Fair
Street and the other on corner of Centre and Liberty
Streets. Here was fiery preaching, lively music and
delirious excitement called "slaying power."
Imagine the horror of those solid Friends at hearing
that one of their members had attended a revival at the
"Teaser" meeting house !
A Universalist society had become organized and had
bought land for a meeting house.
The North Congregational church was crowded and
they were contemplating building a larger meeting house.
Plere and also at the Second Congregational Meeting
House on Orange street, now called Unitarian, was cul-
tured preaching and Puritan music. "Solid men sat
in the pews. Every Sunday millions of money listened
to the preachers. The Unitarians were rich enough to
build their church of mahogany."
These were powerful forces and drew many from the
It was decided in the spring of 1833 to seek a different
location. The meeting house on Main street was no longer
convenient. So their overseers, Samuel Mac}'", Hezekiah
Swain, Zenas Gardner, Cromwell Barnard, Kimball
Starbuck, Prince Gardner, Laban Paddock, Peleg
Mitchell and Charles G. Stubbs, purchased a lot on
the west side of Fair street, between Ray's court and
Moore's lane. On the south part of the lot was erected a
meeting house, and in the building on the north side of the
lot was maintained a Friends school, where at one time
John Boadle taught down stairs and Alice Mitchell up-
The meeting house stood where now is the residence of
William M. Barrett, and the schoolhouse and lot are the
property of the Nantucket Historical Association.
tk 9 mo., 1, 1833. The new meeting house was used.
The old meeting house was sold to Charles G. and Henry
Collin, and the building removed to the Commercial wharf
for a warehouse."
A singular experience befell one of these overseers.
k< 6 mo., 27, 1833. Cromwell Barnard was drawn on
the jury and inadvertently administered a formal oath to a
witness. The meeting heard of it, and excused him only
after he had made a written acknowledgement of his
"4 mo., 26, 1835. A library of one hundred thirty-
nine books was placed in the meeting house."
It was evidently thought that if suitable literature could
be read by Friends some of the hostile influences of that
day would be counteracted and members held faithful
to the meeting.
But notwithstanding all efforts to the contrary, during
the decade from 1835 to 1845 there was a continually in-
creasing indifference. Many were disowned for marrying
contrary to the rules of the society and lor not attending
meetings. Their numbers were fast diminishing.
" 8 mo., 31, 1843. Maria Mitchell, daughter of Will-
iam Mitchell, was disowned because she had neglected
the meetings, and told the committee that her mind was
not settled on religious subjects and that she had no wish
to retain her right in membership."
The beauty of a thousand stars in the canopy of
heaven was more congenial.
The meeting was losing its power and prestige. The
force and influence of Quaker principles were on the
wane. Some dread catastrophe was casting its shadow
Those who had met the Hicksite invasion into New
England, conquered it and seen it disappear from the
island were now called to a more disheartening conflict.
Their victory over the Hicksites had been easy, for they
had the support of all the Friends in New England,
but in the comincr contest every meeting; in New England
would be against them, and they would themselves be
The new enemy had already appeared even before the
end of the Hicksite movement, but the attention of Friends
was so engrossed by the latter that it for a time over-
shadowed the former. Thus when the Hicksite struggle
was ended and the two parties had separated, the Orthodox
American Friends turned their attention towards the new
heresy that was progressing in England and America.
About the year 1818 a systematic study of the Scriptures
and catechising- thereon was introduced in the Friends
school at Ackworth. Joseph John Gurney is stated to
have been the chief promoter of this change. I lis
attempt to encourage a study of the Scriptures as the sole
guide in religion brought on him severe attacks by
Friends, who asserted that the Inner Light beincr the
Divine Spirit shedding its light in the human heart was the
primary guide and the Scriptures were secondary.
Here began the thirty years' struggle commonly known
as the Gurneyite movement, although it became well
defined not before 1832.
THE GURNEY DIVISION.
Joseph John Gurney was the son of a wealthy English
Quaker family ; was highly educated in English universi-
ties, and by his eloquence and polished discourse became
a preacher of great power in the Quaker society, and
gained great popularity both in England and America.
His sermons contained statements from which the stal-
wart American Friends decided that here was a man
more dangerous than Elias Hicks.
They asserted that Friends could not tell beforehand
what the spirit would direct them to do in a meeting, and
as they were not moved until assembled in meeting there
could be no preparation. There was no priest, no sacra-
ment, no liturgy, no hymn book, not even a Bible. It
was an assembly of human souls gathered in solemn still-
ness, waiting until God should speak through one of them to
the rest. If a minister was discovered making any prepara-
tion for a meeting, she was said to be t4 going before her
guide," and she was deposed and silenced. With this cardi.
nal principle emphasized and reiterated on all possible oc-
casions, it was with great uneasiness that American
Friends learned that Gurney actually carried a Bible
to meeting and read from it. They also claimed that he
prepared his discourses beforehand. This was not Quaker
dependence on the Holy Spirit. The error of Hicks was
in repudiating the Bible. The error of Gurney was in re-
pudiating the Spirit. Gurney therefore was as dangerous
as the other, and in 1838 the American Friends began
a seven years' conflict with the purpose of having Gurney
silenced by the London Yearly Meeting. Every move-
ment must have a leader, and these persons attacking
Gurney selected John Wilbur of Hopkinton, Rhode Island,
whose vigor and rigor proved entirely adequate to the
Gurney visited most of the meetings in America and
Europe and met with great success. He visited Nantucket
July, 1838, and was the guest of Cromwell Barnard.
Wilbur by voice and pen met with less success, for in
Great Britain all the meetings had approved Gurney's
The bitterest contest was carried on in New England.
It seems that Wilbur differed from Gurney in only four
1. Whether justification precedes or follows sanctilica-
2. The true reason for observing the first day of the
week instead of the seventh.
3. Whether in the next world will be given natural or
4. Whether the Holy Spirit or the Bible is the true re-
The first three points in dispute are entirely unessential
and any discussion of them would be without profit.
George Fox taught that the Holy Spirit could be
received by believers so as to become an Inner Light, mak-
ing clear the path to follow, and that no other guide was
as infallible. The Bible was of secondary importance.
Until the time ot Gurney emphasis was placed on the
Inner Light, instead of the Bible, but Gurney discovered an
inconsistency among the Friends. Ministers had been ac-
cused of teaching false doctrine. They claimed to speak
what the spirit taught them, and yet they were condemned
by the society of Friends and their teaching was proved
to be false by quotations from the Bible. If a man's light
differed from the Bible, he was judged not to have the
true light. If, therefore, the Bible was the final authority,
Gurney recommended that it be so considered ; that it be
carefully studied by young and old ; that Bible schools be
established ; that societies be organized for the wider cir-
culation of the Scriptures. Some of Gurnew's friends in
England joined with a number of Episcopal bishops in the
formation of a Bible society. This was highly offensive
to the stalwart American Friends.
Thus did the bitterest of conflicts proceed, and New
England became divided into two bitter factions, the Gur-
neyites and Wilburites.
The crisis was reached in 1845 at Newport in the New
England Yearly Meeting.
In several of the Quarterly and Monthly Meetings, there
had been divisions into Wilburite and Gurneyite bodies,
each claiming to be the true organization. These and other
matters came before the Yearly Meeting, the court of last
resort for final adjudication.
The larger part of the prominent Nantucket Friends
had joined the Wilbur party, aiid were ready in the
Yearly Meeting to offer stout resistance to the advance of
the Gurney party.
It was evident that the Yearly Meeting had overwhelm-
ingly adopted the views of Gurney, and if majorities had
ruled, as in other bodies, the Wilbur party would have
had little opportunity to be heard.
Owino; to a curious feature in the government of the
Quaker society, a small minority has an opportunity
to make a vigorous and often successful contest. It arises
in the selection of a clerk for the meeting", whose power is
almost supreme. Usually in secular bodies the first strug-
gle is to obtain a majority in number, and then the majority
by vote controls all subsequent matters. But in a Friends'
Meeting there is no chairman and no voting ; conse-
quently numbers do not count.
The clerk decides what is the sense of the meeting and
then he "makes a minute of it, "or makes a record of it.
When a Friends' Meeting is to take action the clerk an-
nounces the subject and awaits the expression of the
members. After all the members that wish have ex-
pressed themselves the clerk thereupon decides what is the
solid weighty sense of the meeting. It may not be the
view of the majority ; but taking into account the age,
piety, experience and position of those expressing them-
selves he decides what is the view of the solid and weighty
members. This view must be what he thinks most sensi-
ble. The sense of the meeting may become the view of
The difficulty and delicacy of the duty imposed on the
clerk of collecting and recording the judgment of the
meeting without a vote being taken is so great that
in times of excitement and conflicting opinions few persons
can be found competent to the task, for however impartial
the clerk it is always difficult for him not to be influenced
by his own views and sympathies. It therefore follows
from this that the clerk may declare the judgment of the
meeting to be according to the view of the minority, and
so the minority governs the meeting. This actually
happened in the city of Philadelphia.
Nor does his power end here, for having decided what
is the sense of the meeting whatever record the clerk
makes is conclusive and can never be altered, corrected or
changed. With such an opportunity for the minority to
govern a few are often encouraged to convince the clerk
that their view is the sensible one, and if successful he
will make a minute in their favor. It should be stated
that when there is a great difference of opinion among the
members an impartial clerk will make a minute postpon-
ing the subject till the next meeting, but usually the clerks
in times of excitement are not so impartial but decide in
favor of one party.
The first act at the opening of a new meeting is to elect
a new clerk. For this purpose the old clerk presides.
Whichever party he favors will thereafter control the
organization. For with a clerk in their favor a few could
overcome a multitude. Such a decisive advantage is this
that the entire contest in a division is waged on this
point. If a contesting party cannot elect their clerk they
always withdraw. This is their way of settling a di-
At this session of the Yearly Meeting the Wilburites,
under the leadership of Prince Gardner of Nantucket,
tried to secure the selection of Thomas B. Gould of New-
port as clerk, but the clerk of the previous year, who was
to decide the sense of the meeting, being a Gurneyite,
found the sense of the meeting to be that he himself
should continue to be clerk. When he made this minute
the Wilburites withdrew to a Baptist Church near by and
organized what they called the New England Yearly
Several years later the Supreme Court of Massachu-
setts was sought to pass upon the respective rights of these
There is in Fall River on North Main Street a plain
white building, which in 1844 belonged to the Swansea
Monthly Meeting, which was largely Gurneyite. This
meeting divided into two bodies, the Gurney body
being much larger, each claiming to be the true Swansea
Monthly Meeting, and both selected overseers, who are
the officers to take charge of the societies' property.
The Wilburite overseers succeeded in getting control of
the Fall River meeting house and would not surrender it.
The matter was carried to the Quarterly Meeting, but here
was a division. There was a Gurney Quarterly Meeting
and a Wilbur Quarterly Meeting. So the Yearly Meeting-
was called upon to decide the controversy. But as here
was also a division a suit was brought in the courts of
Massachusetts by the Gurney overseers for possession of
the Fall River meeting house. The Supreme Court, in a
lengthy opinion, decided that the Gurney Yearly Meeting
was, the true meeting and that the Wilburites were
seceders, and so not entitled to any of the property of the
meeting which they had left. Moreover it was there stated
by Judge Shaw that the unhappy division between the
Wilburites and Gurneyites arose from an apprehension of
the former that the latter were disseminating false doc-
trines, "of which," he said, "there was no evidence."
The points of difference seem to be exceedingly trivial,
and one Friend told me that the real cause for the ill will
which John Wilbur entertained towards Gurney was due
to the fact that when Wilbur visited England he was not
allowed to smoke in Gurney's house.
Thus was accomplished in the New England Yearly
meeting a division into two bodies, of which the Gurney
body comprised about nine-tenths of the meeting.
After the contest between the two bodies in the Yearly
Meeting at Newport some of the Wilbur party took a trip
to Nantucket. At a first day meeting Thomas B. Gould
arose to preach. Cromwell Barnard, who was the leading
Gurney advocate at Nantucket, interrupted him, saying :
"Friend, thee can sit down." Peleg Mitchell then said :
"Friend, thee can go on." Oilier elders expressed their
views. Women were greatly agitated and in tears, and
some went out. Gould continued and finished his dis-
This disturbance indicated clearly how the two parties
were arrayed, although there had been no separation. It
was evident that a separation would result, and it was also
certain that Cromwell Barnard, William Mitchell and
Abram R. Wing would lead one body, and that Prince
Gardner and Peleg Mitchell the other. Soon after the
occasion offered and the result was decisive.
The division took place in July, 1845, when the Sand-
wich Quarterly Meeting, which was largely Gurneyite,
met in Nantucket, but the Nantucket delegates were Wil-
When the meeting was opened reports from every
Monthly Meeting were presented except Nantucket,
although the Nantucket delegates were present, also John
Wilbur and some of his Friends. When the report of the
Nantucket Meeting was requested Ilezekiah Barnard
stated that he had the report but they had concluded
to withhold it, adding "that a separation must and would
take place." An attempt was then made to appoint Peleg
Mitchell as clerk. This was opposed by the Gurney
party, as he had been identified with the separatists at
Newport. John Wilbur and his friends when re-
quested would not leave the hall, so the Quarterly Meet-
ing adjourned until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. In the
meantime the Wilbur party had remained and organized
what they called the Sandwich Quarterly Meeting. At 4
o'clock, when the adjourned meeting reassembled, the
Wilburites had gone.
The Nantucket Meeting had thus withdrawn from the
Quarterly Meeting, but there were members of the Nan-
tucket Meeting that remained loyal. They were in
sympathy witli Gurney. The Quarterly Meeting encour-
aged them to continue the Monthly Meeting, which was
accordingly done in July, 1845.
There was effected a division of the Nantucket Meeting
into a Gurney body and a Wilbur body. It is stated by
the Gurney body that they numbered 88 and that the Wil-
bur body numbered 140, and that 79 were either at sea or
feeble, and were doubtful. Assuming that the doubtful
ones were equally divided between the two bodies there
would have been about 130 Gurney and ISO Wilbur
Friends. So the stalwarts at Nantucket were in the
majority, which was not true in any other meeting in New
The Supreme Court decision in the case of the Fall
River meeting house leaves no doubt that the Wilbur body
were separatists and the Gurney body were true continu-
ing Friends, and as such entitled to all the property.
The matter of property will be dealt witli again in connec-
tion with the meetings, each of which will now be treated
separately. Before the separation the meeting had prop-
erty that cost $21,000. This was held by the Fair Street
Friends, together with many volumes of records of births,
deaths, marriages, and doings of the meetings from their
commencement to that date. These records while on
Nantucket were not allowed to be examined by any one
not a member.
NANTUCKET MONTHLY MEETING (GURNEY).
Those Nantucket Friends who continued loyal to the
New England Yearly Meeting, under the advice of the
Sandwich Quarterly Meeting, met in the house of Crom-
well Barnard and denominated themselves the Nantucket
Monthly Meeting of FYiends. As Peleg Mitchell had
identified himself with the other body he was adjudged no
longer suitable as clerk, and in his place was chosen
his brother William, ^and a demand was made to the Fair
Street Meeting for the records, meeting house and other
property, to which demand no attention was given.
They then appointed Cromwell Barnard, Obed Fitch and
Kimball Starbnck overseers, Abram R. Wing recorder,
and Seth Mitchell treasurer.
"8 mo., 2, 1845. The committee reported that they
had secured the house recently occupied by Elizabeth
Chase on Winter street, which is in readiness for our
This was the Abner Coffin house and stood where is
now the Coffin school.
" 1 mo., 1, 1840. The committee had seen the agent of
the Main street house built by the Hicksites, and he had
agreed to let this meeting have it for $150 per year."
Here they continued to meet until November 28, 1850,
when the meeting house on Center street had been
Aside from attending to their own business, the Gurney
meeting was now required to deal with the Friends who
had separated. So a book was procured and in it were
written the names of all the members before the separation.
They then proceeded to disown those who attended the
Fair Street Meeting.
The following were among those disowned because
they withdrew from fellowship with the New England
Yearly Meeting : —
Frederick Arthur, Rachel Hussey,
Mary Arthur, David G. Hussey,
James Austin, Elizabeth Hussey,
John Boadle, Benjamin Hussey,
Hezekiah Barnard, Gorham Hussey,
Mary Barnard, Lydia M. Hussey,
Susan Barnard, llepsibeth C. Hussey,
Alexander G. Coffin, Nancy Hussey,
John L. Coffin,
Joseph G. Coleman,
John G. Coffin,
John Franklin Coleman
James B. Coleman,
Eliza Ann Easton,
Hannah Maria Gardner
Lydia G. Hussey,
Mary S. Mitchell,
Obed B. Swain,
Joseph B. Swain,
Richard G. Swain.
The property held by the Fair Street Meeting com-
prised the meeting house, poor house, burial ground, the
old records, and about $7000. Possession could only be
obtained by a law suit, and this the Yearly Meeting dis-
couraged, as it would be a contest in which relatives
would be at strife with relatives. The records were never
afterwards demanded, and remained in the custody of the
Fair Street Friends.
In 1864 the Fair Street real estate was sold and the pro-
ceeds divided between the two meetings. The money
was divided by agreement.
According to the decision of the courts, the Fair Street
Meeting had lost their rights to the burial ground. But
O fc> fc>
this was not enforced, and the Fair Street Friends were
permitted to use the south end and the others used the
north end. So there are grave stones in the north part,
but none in the south part.
The members of the Gurney Meeting lost heavily by
the great fire of 1846, and they were compelled to request
assistance from the Quarterly Meeting. After this they
improved in financial strength, and in May, 1850, a com-
mittee was appointed to select the location of a meeting
house. The next month they reported that a lot on Center
Street would cost $500 and one on Liberty street would
cost $350, and considering the cost they recommended the
Liberty Street lot, where is now the residence of David W.
Burgess. But for reasons not known the Center Street
lot was selected, and November £8, 1850, William Mitchell
and Herman Crocker reported that they had completed
building the new meeting house, which cost separate from
the land nearly $1500.
An important addition to their numbers in 1857 was
Christopher C. Hussey, who withdrew in I860, and
became a prominent clergyman in the Unitarian Church.
The Center Street Meeting continued until 1806. Its
membership became so reduced and scattered that it was
deemed best to discontinue it, and its last meeting was
held January 10, 1867, when it decided to be disolved and
transferred with all its property to** the New Bedford
This property comprised : —
1. Meeting house, Center Street.
2. Interest in Friends' Asylum.
One share in the old North Wharf.
Burial ground held with Fair Street Friends.
Cash, four hundred and \\t\y dollars.
The Center Street property is still owned by the New
Bedford Monthly Meeting, and is used for worship when-
ever thought desirable.
During the thirty-two years of its existence live mar-
riages took place in the Center Street Meeting.
Ed ward Sutton to Sarah Gale.
Moses Farnham to Mary B. Allen.
Samuel P. Johnson to Martha Ilussey.
Presbrey Wing to Sarah Barker.
Owen Dame to Eliza C. Mitchell.
Thomas Macy, who was disowned as a Hicksite twenty-
eight years before, in 1858 became a member of this
At the present time there remain but two members who
were enrolled in the organization in July, 1815 — Matthew
Barney and William Hosier.
FAIR STREET MEETING (WILBUR).
After the separation in 1845 and the Gurney body had
organized its meeting, it was at once denominated ^spuri-
ous" by the Fair Street Friends, and all who attended
it were disowned from the Wilbur body.
Among those disowned were the followin-g, viz. :
Elizabeth Austin, Miriam Starbuck,
Cromwell Barnard, Abigail Allen,
Susanna Coleman, Matthew Barney,
Deborah Coffin, Lydia Bunker,
Robert B. Hussey,
Abram R. Wing,
Having cleared their garments of the spurious Gurney-
ites the Fair Street Meeting, although reduced in numbers,
cheerfully travelled on like Gideon's famous army which,
though reduced from thirty thousand to three hundred, yet
put the enemy to flight.
The most prominent minister, Christopher C. Hussey,
was disowned for doctrinal reasons and afterwards became
a member of the Gurney Meeting.
Disownments for all the ancient causes were accom-
plished as often as an instance occurred.
In 1856. One member failed to pay his just debts and
otherwise conducted his pecuniary affairs in a disreputable
1858. Two brothers had married women not members.
1862. A member had been sailing in an armed vessel
and engaged i n war.
1864. A member had neglected the meetings and
allowed a musical instrument in his house, and permitted
his daughter to practice thereon.
1868. Several members neglected the meeting.
1869. A member married a man out of the meeting.
1871. Three members were attending meetings of an-
1878. One member for ne<>'lectin£ meetings and one for
marrying out of the meeting.
A member had neglected the meetings.
A member had neglected the meetings.
A member had neglected the meetings.
A member had neglected the meetings.
A member had married a man out of the meet-
Since 1845 ten marriages took place.
1847. Samuel D. Otis to Elizabeth Gorham.
1847. John Folger to Phebe Coffin.
1849. William MeKeel to Mary Gorham.
1850. Obed B. Swain to Susan Ilussey.
1854. John Boadle to Hannah M. Heaton.
1855. Benjamin Tucker to Mary S. Paddack.
1870. William MeKeel to Martha G. Hussey.
1876. Thomas Leigh to Elizabeth Foster.
1878. Morton A. Wamesly to Abbie L. Chase.
1887. John H. Foster to Mary E. Sinkinson.
A singular incident is recorded concerning the ministry
of Narcissa B. Coffin.
"10 mo., 24, 1858. This meeting after a time of
weighty deliberation has united with the women in ap-
proving the gift and public appearance in the ministry of
Narcissa B. Coffin."
"7 mo., 28, 1864. She was deposed and silenced by
the Nantucket Meeting 'for not keeping on the watch and
abiding in a state of humility and abasedness of self.'"
She was a woman of a high order of ability, and none
ever came into her presence without receiving a delight-
ful impression. The Quaker society at^ Nantucket was
fortunate in having a person among their members who
could so persuasively present the principles of Quakerism,
and they were indeed rich if they could dispense with the
services of such a woman. Inquiry was made for the rea-
son she was deposed. Answer was made that she went
"before her guide." This may have meant that she made
preparation beforehand for some sermon.
8 mo., 88, 1881). After twenty-five years of silence
Narcissa B. Collin was restored to her ministry in the
This was done in a dwelling house in Lynn, and
it ought not to remain unrecorded that they were all dead
who silenced her a quarter of a century before. She
immediately conducted a most successful missionary tour
through the Scandinavian peninsular, giving strong evi-
dence of the great amount of work she had been com-
pelled to leave undone.
After the separation in 1845, the Wilbur party organ-
ized meetings throughout New England wherever their
numbers would allow, and these were called "smaller
bodies," in distinction from the large Gurney bodies.
These "smaller bodies" in Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were in
unity with each other, when another curious division took
place that exerted an important influence on the Nantucket
The controversy occurred in the Central New York
Meeting at Scipio in relation to a publication by that
meeting of the journal of Joseph Hoag. In the original
work Hoag had made some remarks derogatory to the
temper and judgment of Job Otis, who lived in New Bed-
ford during the early part of this century, and then moved
to Scipio and continued to be one of the strictest of
American Friends. He was highly respected by those
whose censorious tastes inclined them toward a rigid and
severe discipline. Hoag was a Quaker minister of great
fame, whose views were not unlike those of Otis, but
whose temper and judgment were much more pacific.
In 1858 the Scipio Yearly Meeting decided to publish
the journal, and the matter was left to a committee. The
friends of the Otis family desired to omit the criticism o(
job Otis. The other members of the committee thought
it best to publish the book with no omissions.
When the matter became fully known the members of
this Yearly Meeting became divided into about two equal
parties, the one party composed of the Otis family and
their sympathizers, under the lead of James Otis, desired
to have suppressed the criticism written by Joseph Hoag.
The other party, under the lead of John King, claimed
that if the journal was published at all it should be pub-
lished entire. These two parties separated in 1859, and
each party constituted a separate Yearly Meeting, the one
with James Otis as clerk commonly known as the Otis
Meeting, and the other with John King as clerk commonly
called the King Meeting.
Each of these meetings sought to obtain the support and
recognition of the Wilbur Meeting in New England. For
several years the New England Meeting, of which Peleg
Mitchell was clerk, declined to approve either the Otis or
the King Meeting, as no point of doctrine or discipline
was involved. It was a difficult question to decide, for if
they decided that the book should be published entire,
there would appear a criticism on one of their leaders. If,
on the other hand, they approved the suppression, they
would be discreditably covering up an important statement
of an eye witness.
But in 1863 the question demanded decision, and it
resulted in a division of the New England Meeting.
About forty of them, a small part of the meeting, withdrew
and under the leadership of Peleg Mitchell of Nantucket
and Nathan Page of Danvers, formed a separate Meeting
that at once approved and recognized the Otis Meeting of
New York. The Wilburites that remained, recognized
the Kino; Meeting. The Nantucket Meeting as a whole
was almost unanimously in favor of the Otis party. No
other New England Meeting went that way. So that there
were scattered over New England on the main land,
Wilburite Quakers who had favored the Otis party in New
York and were not in unity with their own meetings.
There was Nathan Page of Danvers, the Oliver fam-
ily in Lynn, and the Foster family in Rhode Island. The
Nantucket Meeting alone in New England held their
views. So these persons joined the Nantucket Meeting.
Thus the Nantucket Society separated itself from all other
New England bodies and became in fact the only "Otis"
Meeting in New England. These additions restored con-
siderable vigor to the struggling society. For at this time
it was weak and its numbers few.
But it was thought best to maintain a smaller Meeting
House. When they undertook to sell the real estate they
found that the property was claimed by the Center Street
Meeting. So they came to an understanding and both
Meetings joined in the deed, selling the whole Fair
Street property to Alfred Macy. Then the Fair Street
Meeting bought back the north part and transformed the
school house into a meeting house. This change took place
in the summer and autumn of 1864. From the beginning
of the meeting, 4th mo. 28, 1708. Men and Women
held separate meetings. 11 mo. 26, 1868. As their
numbers had so diminished it was decided that their meet-
ings should be held together.
In the spring of 1894 as only one member of the Meet-
ing lived at Nantucket it was decided to sell the Meeting
House. It was therefore sold in Jime, 1894, to the Nan-
tucket Historical Society. At this time the membership
of the Nantucket Monthly Meeting of Friends comprised
twenty-three persons, only two of whom were born at
Nantucket. One lived at Nantucket, one in Boston, one in
Danvers, ten in Lynn, and the same number in Provi-
dence. If they had not received those additions in 1803,
the Meeting would now contain but two persons, one man
and one woman, each well advanced in years.
When the Meeting House was sold, the books of records,
containing much valuable information about deaths, births
and marriages of Nantucket people, were transported from
the Island and are now in the custody of James VV. Oliver
So the Nantucket Monthly Meeting of Friends is now a
misnomer. It began at Nantucket about the year 1700
and when the year 1900 opens, there may not be left on
the Island a single Friend.
The dominant members of the Nantucket Society, who
controlled and directed its movements, seemed not to ap-
preciate why the Creator painted the morning and evening
sky ; colored the woods ; bestowed on the birds of the air
matchless gifts of form, color and song ; caused the lilies
of the field to grow in glory beyond the reach of earthly
wisdom ; created man in his own image and placed him in
this fair world with a mind demanding for its happiness to
behold the splendors that surround him, to listen to the
music that comes on the wings of the wind and in joy to
open his heart in song, so they banished from human life
much innocent and wholesome pleasure and forbid atten-
tion to the beauties of form, color and song. The penalty
came and Friends have almost disappeared from Nan-
If they had adopted more liberal terms of fellowship ; if
their religious services had been more varied ; if the gift
of preaching had been more encouraged and less ham-
pered ; if they had established a better proportioned theol-
ogy ; if they had not obscured or undervalued any portion
of Divine Truth, wherever revealed ; if they had abandoned
their discipline and allowed the laws of the land to deal
with offenders ; if instead of expelling members for trivial
offences, they had exercised towards them a wise charity ;
if instead of maintaining their society as an organization
composed of men and women who never departed from
rectitude, it had been regarded as a portion of the church
of Christ, in which were men and women of every degree
of moral acquirements ; if their beautiful system of sim-
plicity had been built on the rock and not on sandy foun-
dations, they might have been as vigorous today as they
were a century ago.